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The Prospector

Miami hopes finish strong after early season woes

Adrian Boraddus

Adrian Boraddus

Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor

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The Miami Hurricanes football squad has not won a bowl game since the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl. However, under the guidance of interim head coach Larry Scott, the team finished strong, winning four out of their last five games. Now, entering the 82nd Hyundai Sun Bowl, the Hurricanes (8-4) will battle for their first bowl win in nearly a decade.

After a crushing 58-0 loss against Clemson, head coach Al Golden was fired, leaving interim coach Scott to fill the position. As head coach, Golden posted a 0-2 record in bowl games and had not won more than five conference games in his five seasons.

A winning spark came back to the team when Scott took the reigns as the head coach. In the final stretch of the season, Miami won key games against Virginia (27-21), Georgia Tech (38-21), Pittsburgh (29-24) and Duke (30-24), a game in which the Hurricanes had an unforgettable victory off an eight-lateral winning return against the Blue Devils.

The turnaround started on the defensive side. The U ranks sixth among FBS teams with a +13 turnover margin. They have 24 turnovers gained and 11 turnovers lost, which makes them only one of 16 teams in FBS with a double-digit positive turnover margin.

“The [defense] stayed together, that’s the biggest thing they did,” said Scott. “Guys had to step up their roles, and now we are here. They kept competing, kept playing and unified.”
The Hurricane defense will have their hands full, facing the air-raid offense, unlike they have seen before. Washington State’s standout quarterback Luke Falk leads the Pac-12 in passing yards (387.8 ypg) and second in touchdowns (36). Miami’s defense has recorded 15 interceptions this season, which ranks third best in the ACC. However, the Hurricane defense will have to adjust to the loss of junior safety Jamal Carter. The junior, who recorded 48 tackles in the regular season, contributed with one interception and one forced fumble, was sent home for violating team rules.

“It’s different; there’s not many teams in the country who play that way – the air raid offense,” Scott said. “It’s going to be a unique challenge for us.”

On the offensive side of the ball, sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya is on track statistically to being one of the Hurricane’s greatest at the position. Kaaya currently has 6,217 career passing yards, which ranks him fifth on the all-time career passing list. With that, Kaaya surpassed some of the Miami greats, such as Bernie Kosar, Ryan Clement, Craig Erickson and Vinny Testaverde. Kaaya is one of three players in the nation to throw for 3,000-or-more yards, 10-or-more touchdowns and have four-or-fewer interceptions.

One of his main targets, receiver Stacy Coley, will be a threat for the Cougars’ secondary. He leads the team with 1,461 all-purpose yards and averaged 79.2 yards per game. However, Coley is not the only receiver Washington State should keep their eyes on. Wideouts Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters, who total with 620 and 607 total receiving yards, respectively, contribute to the team’s success in passing.

“A lot of guys grew up this year,” Kaaya said. “Our o-line really matured a lot. Nick (Linder) took ownership of the o-line. I think Stacy (Coley) grew up a lot this year. I think Joe (Yearby) took on more of a leadership role and he knew that he had to after the injury that Gus (Edwards) suffered.”

Miami has put up record setting numbers on the ground. Freshman running back Mark Walton has totaled nine touchdowns this season, ranking as the third-most of a Miami freshman since 2000. He has 819 total yards and rushed for 438 yards.

The unsung hero in the backfield is the South Florida native, sophomore Joe Yearby. He has 1,113 total yards and 939 yards on the ground. His teammates, most specifically offensive lineman Nick Linder, wants Yearby to surpass a thousand rushing yards during the Sun Bowl.

“In the offseason, [Joe] made a complete transformation of his body and his play,” Linder said. “[A thousand yards is] a good milestone for a kid like that.”

After the regular season ended, Miami hired former University of Georgia head coach, Mark Richt. He will not being present for the Sun Bowl, but changes are on the horizon for the team. According to senior safety Deon Bush, it is not affecting the team’s psyche; rather, it is bringing them closer together.

“Everybody is playing for each other,” Bush said. “It’s a big family over here. The coaches are uncertain about their future, but they haven’t changed their preparation a bit and that means a lot. When you see somebody still investing for the future of this program, even though they are uncertain about it, that says a lot about someone’s character. I really applaud all the coaching staff and how they handled it. It’s been a pleasure to play for them this year.”

Kickoff for the Sun Bowl is set for high noon, Dec. 26, and will be televised on CBS Sports.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at theprospectordaily.sports@gmail.com

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Assayer of Student Opinion.
Miami hopes finish strong after early season woes